Hi everyone, happy Tuesday! You may have seen on my Instagram (@retroflame) that we’ve been traveling lots over the past 2 weeks and I have to say, I’ve come back to New York with so much to say! Haha…a.k.a. lots of new blog post/video ideas. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this post today. Over the space of 10 days, we went from NY – Paris – Kerry – Dublin – Donegal and then back to New York, so as you can imagine, lots to take in. I love New York, but I always say, you NEED to get out of here every now and again to stay sane and inspired and this past trip has honestly given me such a boost! We took lots of photos in Paris (I mean, how could we not) and I’ve already shared a big trip round-up HERE & also my VLOG but today, I wanted to share a better look at this outfit I wore on our 3rd day there.
If you follow along on my Instagram stories or Snapchat (yes, I still use Snapchat), you might have seen that I literally just brought ONE coat to Paris with me and it was this Lilac one (which is on SALE today FYI). I wore it over all my looks throughout the trip – it’s oversized which in my eyes = SO comfy – and then on the last day, I wore it as the main piece of my look. You’ll know that I’m not majorly into colour but I’m just loving lilac right now. To keep it quite ‘me’, I paired it with all black – leggings, jumper, boots & hat – and loved how it looked. Here are some more lilac pieces I have my eye on too…
One of the things I did while I was away was a presentation to a group of people (business owners, students, young designers) about ‘My Story’. The event was actually the main reason for my trip home and I can honestly say it was the highlight. It was a 45-minute talk + about 15 minutes for questions afterwards and going by the response to it, I’m so happy to say it went really well! I was nervous. Lots of people didn’t believe me when I said that afterwards, but I was. Not so much nervous about speaking but nervous that I was going to provide enough value. This is something I always always think about with everything I do. I said in one of my recent vlogs when I was creating the presentation on my laptop that I just didn’t want people to walk away and say ‘yeah, it was OK’, I wanted them to walk away with the idea that if I can do it, so can they. That the learnings from ‘my story’ and my journey so far would help them with theirs. No matter what industry they were in.
I’m often asked to speak briefly at events but this one was different.
This one really made me look back. It made me realize all the things I’ve learned along the way and emphasized certain things I did which changed everything. The game-changers as I like to call them. Often at the time, you don’t even realize how much of an impact something will be, it’s only when you look back that you see how much is shaped everything to come.
As well as sharing my story as such (this was only half the presentation), I also shared my predictions about where things are going and what I think people should be doing in relation to digital marketing & social media. I’ve worked both on the brand side and obviously on the blogger side, so I really enjoyed sharing my thoughts on this. I won’t go into that too much in this post, but do let me know if you’d maybe like me to make a video around this?
But for now, here are 3 key things I’ve done & lessons I’ve learned in my career so far which in my eyes, were a huge help in getting me to the stage I’m at today:
1. If you chance your arm enough, it will work eventually.
During my first Summer interning in New York, I sent a blind email to Whitney Port asking if I could assist her backstage at her New York Fashion Show. 2 Days later, her sister replied asking when could I start. Bear in mind, Retro Flame barely existed at this stage. I was a 20 year old Irish girl with very little experience but I was determined to do everything in my power to make it to fashion week. I had to find a way and I wasn’t stopping until I found it. I knew among all the no’s, I would find my yes.
I worked with her for 12 days and I still to this day feel that this was one of the things that put me on the map initially. Lots of the Irish press featured it and that’s when people started to notice Retro Flame. (I still often joke that sometimes you have to leave Ireland in order for them to notice you, haha!)
The feeling I got when I got the email reply that day has honestly stuck with me forever. Still to this day I chance my arm. Every single day, actually. New York taught me from the get-go that anything is possible and you honestly never know when that lucky break is coming your way. Always remember that opportunity is when preparation, hard work & the tiniest bit of luck come together. Among those 100 no’s, you’ll eventually find your yes. So keep chancing that arm of yours until you get there.
2. Forcing yourself to be yourself is vital.
Something I don’t talk about a lot is how when I moved to NYC initially, I found it really tricky to please everyone & I guess, find my voice. I definitely need to do a whole separate post on this in the future, but the differences between the blogging/fashion industry in Ireland and New York really had me questioning how I should be doing things. In my opinion (and this is just my own personal look on things): Irish bloggers focus on showing you how things actually are – e.g. what they’re actually wearing on a particular day with less focus on making it a ‘perfect’ photo. In contrast to US bloggers who focus SO much on the quality of content/photos but often less on the authenticity of it. I feel that Irish bloggers create content for their followers, whereas US bloggers think more about what a brand would think if they landed on their instagram page. I hope that makes sense?
So there I was with an Irish following who I knew loved things a certain way, but trying my best to break into the US market and get followers and brands alike to notice me & my content. I remember being one of the only ones out of my US Blogger friends who was using Snapchat when it came out first – they were always shocked when I told them I had a proper following on there. Brands were so shocked too! The US blogging industry was 110% slower to adapt to incorporating the ‘real’ side of things into their daily content. But that’s the side I loved so I kept going anyway.
I decided very early on that the only way I was going to be able to do it was to just do it my own way and fast forward a few years on when vlogging & insta stories are now HUGE, I’m glad I got that head start over here at being comfortable in front of a camera…not just for that ‘perfect picture’ ;).
You HAVE got to do things your own way. Just because that popular instagram account you follow is doing SO well with their all-white aesthetic doesn’t mean that you have to do it that way too. Just because a lot of the American bloggers I follow produce editorial-worthy instagram photos taken on the Brooklyn Bridge or in the new go-to NYC cafe, doesn’t mean that’s what I should be doing too. You find what works for you, in YOUR own way and you stick to it. For me, it’s a mix of both worlds I guess. I love that I’m able to work both in Ireland and the US and am really happy that I embraced both worlds and did it my way. I always say that my aim for Retro Flame is to be real & relatable with a tiny touch of Chanel & YSL. Haha :)
When your passion shines through in something, no matter how it looks, people will like always like it.
3. Create a story which people will respect.
….& finally, kind of tying in with the above point and something I spoke so much about in my presentation is the importance of creating a story which people will a) respect and b) fall in love with. Nothing impresses me more than seeing someone who has struggled & persisted to get to where they are and since moving to New York, I’ve seen how much other people respect that too.
I was on the phone to an American brand that I love just yesterday and the owner was telling me how she wanted me specifically for a certain project because I ‘wasn’t like the rest of them’. When I asked her what she meant (I’m always SO interested to hear the reasons brands choose to work with me), she said that she just really admired my story. I wasn’t just a New York city girl who’d lived here forever but that instead I was someone who moved here and started at zero. Someone who built a brand new life from scratch in one of the most hectic cities in the world. She also said she follows my Instagram stories and loved seeing over the last few weeks how much I’m still so tied to Ireland. She loved seeing how much I still love it. So just that small snippet into how I’m portraying myself online in the eyes of someone else, proved to me that once you truly love ‘your story’ and your journey, other people will love it too.
Always do things your own way and I promise people will respect it.
I really could go on & on (what’s new, haha!) but I’ll leave it here for today. I’m always learning and still have a very long way to go in what I want to achieve but the talk really did make me realize that the journey is the fun part. So enjoy it, learn from it & keep chancing that arm ;)
See you in tomorrow’s video!
*Big thank you to River Island for partnering on this post.